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CDMA wait for spectrum lengthens

New Delhi/Mumbai, Jan. 3: CDMA operators keen on GSM service will have to wait for spectrum at least till January 31, the next date when Delhi High Court hears the petition filed by the older cellular lobby.

The court today did not impose a stay on the government’s radio wave allocation but said GSM spectrum to CDMA operators, such as Reliance Communications, was subject to the final outcome of the petition filed by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI).

Telecom minister A. Raja will meet solicitor-general G.E. Vahanvati soon before taking a final call on spectrum for CDMA operators, officials of the department of telecom (DoT) said. “The DoT will proceed with the allotment of start-up spectrum after getting the solicitor-general’s opinion,” they said.

In December, the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) had said that the government could give GSM spectrum to CDMA operators. This was challenged by the COAI in a writ petition.

The COAI said that the tribunal gave no reason for its interim order. Spectrum to CDMA operators would undermine older GSM players, it said.

Hearing the COAI petition today, Justice Gita Mittal said: “Anything done by the government in furtherance of an application made by Reliance will be subject to the outcome of this writ petition.”

R-Com move

Reliance Communications (R-Com) today filed a petition with the TDSAT to contest the allotment of “excess spectrum” to some GSM players.

R-Com also sought to stop the DoT from issuing any additional spectrum to the dominant GSM operators until the issues it has raised before the TDSAT are settled.

The CDMA player has pleaded before the TDSAT that it should declare the allocation of “excess spectrum” to GSM players as “arbitrary and illegal”.

Pointing out that spectrum is a “scarce natural resource”, the company argued that excess spectrum allocation to private GSM operators had resulted in an artificial scarcity that was preventing the entry of new operators and competition to the existing GSM operators.

It argued that existing GSM operators were “hoarding excess spectrum with a malafide intention of restricting competition and providing service in cartel like operations” which was “against the consumer interest and ought not to be encouraged”.

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